New salmon farms for Marlborough

  • Nick Smith

The opening of two new salmon farms in the Marlborough Sounds today is a welcome development for New Zealand’s aquaculture industry, Environment Minister and Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith says.

“Salmon is a healthy, sustainable and high-value product and we should be proud that New Zealand is the world’s largest producer of farmed king salmon. New Zealand King Salmon’s Marlborough Sounds operation supports 440 jobs and $115 million in annual export earnings, and comes from just 8 hectares of farms in the 800,000 hectare Sounds. No other primary industry is able to support so many jobs and families from such a small area.”

The two new salmon farms in Pelorus Sound, the Waitata Bay farm and the Kopāua farm in Richmond Bay, add to King Salmon’s operating farms in Queen Charlotte Sound. They will eventually take the company’s production from 6000 to 10,500 tonnes per year, and boost earnings to more than $170 million.

“Agriculture is in New Zealand’s DNA and has been at the core of our economic success in the past but aquaculture will play an increasingly important role in the future. We are limited in the amount of wild fish that can be sustainably caught from the sea and so future growth in the fishing industry will come more from marine farming. This opening is a significant milestone in that it is the first new aquaculture space allocated in nine years.

“This development is particularly significant for the communities of Nelson and Marlborough. We need to diversify our exports, and aquaculture adds value alongside our premium wines, apples, hops, berry fruits and traditional dairy and meat products. These new salmon farms help us build our regional brand as the home of fine food and beverages.

“We need to balance economic growth with environmental sustainability. Our natural resources contribute not only to economic growth but also to quality of life. I am confident we will achieve that through such initiatives as the recently established Marlborough Sounds Salmon Working Group.

“It is one hundredth the size of the famed Atlantic salmon industry but king salmon is more highly valued and more challenging to produce. The Nelson and Marlborough communities need to work with the industry to find a way to further grow while ensuring we maintain the environmental standards and recreational opportunities of the Sounds.

“Separately, we are developing a National Direction for Aquaculture under the Resource Management Act. This is to provide greater certainty for investment in aquaculture while supporting better environmental outcomes and community confidence in the industry.”